Hero cop guilty of corruption
A COURT finding of ‘corrupt conduct’ has been made against former Casino police officer Kenneth Wilkinson after he was accused of destroying evidence by tramping a cannabis plant into mulch.
The constable then failed to report the drug find to avoid paperwork.
Wilkinson, 42, from Lynchs Creek, pleaded guilty in the Lismore Local Court to the charge of hindering a police investigation into a serious offence at Casino on July 19, 2007, by destroying a cannabis plant, then creating false information intending to hinder the police investigation.
The former constable, along with serving officer Matthew Hogan, were investigating a Crime Stoppers report alleging a Casino woman was growing marijuana at her home.
The Crown case stated a 20cm cannabis plant was found growing in a pot in the woman’s vegetable patch. Const Hogan later saw that it was missing and observed Wilkinson ‘squashing it under his feet into an area of mulch’.
Wilkinson told Const Hogan: “That just saved me three hours of paperwork.”
Defence counsel Peter O’Connor said his client was an officer at Casino for three years.
“He had a positive record for his police work. He was among the highest arresting officers in the local area command,” Mr O’Connor said.
“To do that he did a lot of overtime without pay.
“He had a police citation for a fatal crash at Armidale, and a commendation and a bravery award for saving people in floods.”
Mr O’Connor said Wilkinson formed the view that without an admission it would not be possible to successfully prosecute over the cannabis plant.
He said Wilkinson should have followed correct procedure and taken the small plant to the Casino police station to be written up, but at the time ‘he was under significant stress and running 10 briefs’.
“There was nothing sinister and he did not know the people involved. He has made a mistake and for that he has paid very dearly. It was bad judgement,” he said.
Mr O’Connor said senior police told the former officer that if he resigned it would be the end of the matter, but after resigning in September 2008 Wilkinson last year received a Court Attendance Notice.
It was revealed Const Hogan contacted his father, also a police officer, about the issue and the matter was subsequently investigated by Inspector Steven Clarke and the charge laid.
Magistrate Robyn Denes said Wilkinson made an incorrect police entry providing false details stating he had not found any cannabis.
“You formed the view that without admissions you couldn’t prosecute,” Ms Denes said.
“That is not the role of police. The role of police is to investigate a matter.
“It is not for police to decide how a matter is to run. Not to destroy evidence.
“Casino is not a big town. I’m sure they would tell their friends that a local officer came around and squashed their cannabis. We need the safeguards to protect the integrity of the police service.
“This was corrupt conduct.”
Ms Denes convicted Wilkinson of the offence and placed him on a 12-month good behaviour bond.